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RE: Tony Hicks Electrical Safety Letter in MEW 248

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Jon Gibbs04/11/2016 09:20:27
739 forum posts

Perhaps I shouldn't, but I'll rise to the bait, Neil wink

I'm afraid I've never read such a load a twaddle.

"Electrics and electrical engineering should be for experts..."

"The workshop should be an example of all that is safe" - Really?

He may be an "HSE consultant" but I'm afraid he will not be invited into my workshop any time soon. From his letter I fear that I don't think he understands model engineering or model engineers.

In my experience most of us are striving to understand the technology around us now (and from the past) and to repair and re-purpose it to achieve our construction aims whatever they may be.

For the most part this means pushing the envelope of our knowledge, learning something new and coming up with "compromise" solutions to our construction problems. How many times do we have precisely the right tools, equipment and material for the job? Quite rarely IMHO.

So it's up to us, in the privacy of our own workshops, to come up with something and then to decide whether the procedure or product of our labours is "safe enough". I obviously don't advocate recklessness but risk management is a fact of life - everyday for everyone.

Nothing is entirely safe.

I suppose I want to say -

"Tony, chill and enjoy yourself in the workshop. If you find that too hard then please just leave the rest of us alone - There's a good chap."

Jon

Ady104/11/2016 09:41:33
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4907 forum posts
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I haven't read the article but whoever writes it has to err on the side of legal responsibility so his hands are tied no matter what he personally thinks

The days of putting anything remotely risky onto paper are over, apart from free ebook downloads from the pirate bay kinda thing

SillyOldDuffer04/11/2016 11:04:05
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7909 forum posts
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It's strange how the same letter can be interpreted differently!

Tony's letter draws attention to an article on motor power connections that happens to omit any mention of safety issues. I found the original article to be informative and useful. It certainly made me more likely to 'have a go' at fixing motor problems. But! Does this duffer really know what he's doing?

Of course many Model Engineers don't need an 'Up Jumped Baby Bunny' guide to electrical safety. Some might even resent being given the lecture even though they also keep the "Did You Have an Accident That Wasn't Your Fault?" number on speed-dial.

I took Tony's letter in the same spirit I listen to Air Stewardesses advising passengers what to do in the event of a crash. The advice does no harm and it might even save my life.

Cheers,

Dave

Jon Gibbs04/11/2016 12:02:14
739 forum posts
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 04/11/2016 11:04:05:

It's strange how the same letter can be interpreted differently!

Well I suppose you are right there!

Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 04/11/2016 11:04:05:

I took Tony's letter in the same spirit I listen to Air Stewardesses advising passengers what to do in the event of a crash. The advice does no harm and it might even save my life.

...whereas I read it and was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of being patronized - akin to being told not to "play with" sharp tools in my own workshop lest I might cut myself.

Jon

Steven Vine04/11/2016 12:17:24
340 forum posts
30 photos

I agree entirely Jon.

If a 'newbie' has the nous to research a lathe or mill, and then buy the said lathe and mill, then I would think he has read enough to know about the pitfuls and safety issues in the workshop. If he is an idiot and doesn't have regard for safety then he deserves the first electrical shock or flying chuck key he gets, as it will teach a valuable lesson.

I suppose the mag has a duty of care.

Steve

Edited By Steven Vine on 04/11/2016 12:18:54

Edited By Steven Vine on 04/11/2016 12:19:49

michael potts04/11/2016 12:28:04
42 forum posts
2 photos

Well ! For what it is worth I will throw my two penn'orth into the discussion as well.

The original article did not purport to cover electrical safety; it was to show model engineers what their single phase motors were, and how the wiring connections worked, in particular how the reversing wiring could be connected to make the motor go in either direction. This has been the subject of numerous threads on this forum. There are no real problems where all the winding connections are brought out to the motor connection panel, but internal winding joints do give rise to safety problems when they have to be found, disconnected, and then brought out to the panel.

The whole tenor of describing this work was ; 'Do everything very carefully and do multiple checks on the insulation and continuity as the work is done'.

Most of us do not have three phase power, but obtain it from inverters and converters. I have a Transwave converter producing 420 volt three phase power without a neutral. This works fine for the lathe motor, but the Fobco drill motor needs 240 volts single phase to operate the NVR contactor. I obtained this from the converter by using a freely rotating three phase star connected motor to obtain a false neutral, with about 240 volts from the neutral to each phase. I then rewired the NVR to work on three phase plus neutral power from the original single phase power connections.

Health and safety has had a very bad press over the years, much of it very well merited, even if many of the stories were false. I have only ever known one engineer who worked on health and safety. He was appointed when the HASAWA became law in 1974. At the time everyone was concerned, especially the foremen. It was needed, far too many people were being killed in industry, and still are. At the last company that I worked for, Health and Safety came under Personnel. The man who ran it was best known for going on courses and issuing a stream of paperwork that seemed to consume a forest of trees per year.

Our workshops are somewhat dangerous, largely because guarding is less than in industrial premises and they are full of tools, equipment and materials. Tony Griffiths' lathes website has one of the better guides to safety, 'Lathe Safety and Useful Hints and Tips'.

The heading , in red, starts 'MACHINE TOOLS TAKE NO PRISONERS'. The first warning, again in red, reads 'NEVER, EVER LEAVE A CHUCK KEY IN A CHUCK'. It is repeated at intervals and is very rarely out of sight as you read the article which is a series of safety points, hints and tips.

Perhaps MEW needs to have an over riding message over the contents page, similar to that in Lindsay Publications reprints of old text books, 'Model engineering can be dangerous. Please take care and make sure that you know what you are doing'. Or not !

Mike Potts.

Bazyle04/11/2016 12:48:19
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6178 forum posts
222 photos

The magazine as with all manufacturers is constantly under threat from greedy litigators. Every time I log in to my company laptop I get a "stop if you stole the password" message (as if) then every email has a load of gumpf attached at the bottom. Each of our products goes out with a never to be read safety waffle sheet. half the adverts on the radio have al load of get-out statements attached. Warning notices abound the office (but sadly no "wash your hands you filthy git" message on the washroom door).

However if you read this forum for a few months you soon see there are a lot of people buying lathes nowadays who aren't retired machinists and frankly need their hand held to cross the road. So I use my obviously far superior intellect wink to choose which articles I read while recommending that everyone else does learn from them.

John Alexander Stewart04/11/2016 12:59:20
821 forum posts
56 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 04/11/2016 11:04:05:

I took Tony's letter in the same spirit I listen to Air Stewardesses advising passengers what to do in the event of a crash. The advice does no harm and it might even save my life.

I agree - I figure that I'm always open to learning something.

BTW - did some work on aircraft black-box reading apparatus here in Canada a long while back; the "museum" (shelves) of destroyed black boxes by my side was an eye-opener. As was the DC-8 they were piecing back together (it went down in Gander, NL, with US Servicemen on-board). Lots of eye-opening work there, and in other establishments I maybe should not talk about.

So, I *always* follow what the flight attendants say, or the safety video says...

John.

Steven Vine04/11/2016 13:08:27
340 forum posts
30 photos

Any equipment I buy comes with a user manual. At the of top the manual is the safety instructions section, don't do this, don't do that, wear this, wear that. I skim through these out of choice and concentrate on the good stuff in other parts of the manual. If the instructions in the manual for an electric drill says, 'do no immerse in water', then I roll my eyes, and move on, but I don't take umbrage at that because it is my choice to read the H&S warnings. If I am reading a 'how to' or a build article and have lots of H&S thrown at me then I take umbrage as I feel I am being patronized.

Steve

Howard Lewis04/11/2016 13:18:39
5748 forum posts
13 photos

I do not want to generate, or become in another needless fight on the Forum, but.

Brian Hicks, as a HSE Engineer will know that HSE legislation does not apply in home works shops, since they are not commercial premises.

My usual comment on HSE folk is that they cannot use pencils in case they stab themselves, or doors on the office for fear of trapping their fingers.

We all have different levels of skill, so the technique HAS to be assess the risk.

If the odds are too great, DON'T DO IT.

IF YOU ARE NOT SURE: FIND OUT, or CALL IN SOMEONE WHO DOES KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DONG

Lets just keep a sense of proportion without becoming pompous or patronising.

Howard

SillyOldDuffer04/11/2016 14:30:52
Moderator
7909 forum posts
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Posted by Jon Gibbs on 04/11/2016 12:02:14:
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 04/11/2016 11:04:05:

It's strange how the same letter can be interpreted differently!

Well I suppose you are right there!

Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 04/11/2016 11:04:05:

I took Tony's letter in the same spirit I listen to Air Stewardesses advising passengers what to do in the event of a crash. The advice does no harm and it might even save my life.

...whereas I read it and was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of being patronized - akin to being told not to "play with" sharp tools in my own workshop lest I might cut myself.

Jon

" an overwhelming feeling of being patronized". Yes, I agree - the letter can be read that way and in my opinion it goes a step too far. As such Tony has rather undermined his case.

That said I doubt Tony wrote the letter with any intent to patronise. I find it hard to strike the right note in written work and am happy to give Tony the benefit of the doubt. Eye contact and tone of voice make a big difference when trying to make a point. I'm sure we would soon all be best mates if we met to discuss this over a drink.

I remember a furore when David Clark was editor. A chap from Switzerland used to write in and upset people. It got ugly and angry. What the chap said was innocuous enough but the way he said it certainly used to irritate me. Something about his wording smacked of sarcastic schoolmaster and no-one likes being made to feel they're back at school.

I can't be too critical. My reference to Air Stewardesses has outed me as a hopelessly old-fashioned sexist. If only I'd said Flight Attendant...

Dave

Enough!04/11/2016 17:25:09
1719 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by michael potts on 04/11/2016 12:28:04:

The first warning, again in red, reads 'NEVER, EVER LEAVE A CHUCK KEY IN A CHUCK'. It is repeated at intervals and is very rarely out of sight as you read the article

 

I wonder why he chose to give it that level of prominence over other possibilities. Is it because it's felt to be far and away the most dangerous thing you can do in a workshop? Or is it because it's the standard cliché?

Edited By Bandersnatch on 04/11/2016 17:25:46

Mike Poole04/11/2016 18:19:50
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3162 forum posts
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As a control engineer in a major car factory we were a placement for apprentices in their third year. Out of interest I started to ask them if they knew how to isolate and test a piece of equipment, most would say yes they had done it during their training but when challenged to demonstrate they usually floundered. Many would fall at the first hurdle and suggest using a multimeter for the exercise then struggle to describe or demonstrate the full test. I accept that in a modern highly automated factory this is something they will do infrequently but the consequences of not getting it right are severe so should be well understood. I have had a few electric shocks over the years so I don't necessarily practice what I preach but I was usually doing something where I knew that the risk was present so they were not entirely a surprise but still unpleasant.

Mike

not done it yet04/11/2016 19:12:50
6518 forum posts
20 photos

IF YOU ARE NOT SURE: FIND OUT, or CALL IN SOMEONE WHO DOES KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DONG

I think Howard has it in a nutshell. (spelling might not be 100%, but that is gong a bit too far!smiley).

I haven't yet seen the item in question. I may choose to simply fast scan and not read most of it in detail, but there may be something new, or I have overlooked - or even forgotten. New hobbyists should not be encouraged in any way to take an unsafe course of action. Many have grown up in era of 'everything must be guarded, so is safe'; I grew up when one learned to look after yourself where safety was concerned? Sadly, Common Sense seems to have died a long time ago?

An accident is an unforeseen event. While some accidents may have a good outcome, most include damage or injury. A lot of us would benefit from reviewing our current (pardon the pun) methods. One only has to watch some u-toob vids to realise the potential for accidents is out there just waiting to happen. I personally hate electric chain saws - at least a petrol type is totally safe When the engine is stopped!

I have been 'seconded' as a safety officer at vintage machinery events, in the past, and that opens one's eyes to poor practise by a minority, or simple improvements to avoid Joe Public being inconvenienced. Working on your own, with possible serious risk of injury, is an extra factor to take into account.

Brian Oldford04/11/2016 19:14:36
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686 forum posts
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Those failing to applying the appropriate level of common sense in the home workshop may deserve the full effect of Darwin.

Brian (66 year of age with eyebrows and all fingers intact)

not done it yet05/11/2016 01:15:09
6518 forum posts
20 photos

Brian (66 year of age with eyebrows and all fingers intact)

Like me, probably too old, now, to pass on (or not) our genes to the next generation. Mine are already two generations beyond me.

Darwin only applies to those without offspring, unless the next generation get removed before passing on their faulty genes!smiley

Brian H05/11/2016 08:12:15
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2292 forum posts
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Quote "Tony's letter draws attention to an article on motor power connections that happens to omit any mention of safety issues. I found the original article to be informative and useful. It certainly made me more likely to 'have a go' at fixing motor problems."

Can anyone provide a link to the article in question?

Neil Wyatt05/11/2016 09:54:28
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Scribe a Line in the current (sic) issue.

Neil

John Shepherd05/11/2016 11:23:28
222 forum posts
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My experience with H&S seems to be at odds with some others. I worked in an environment where we had to do a risk assessment for all major works because if we didn't get it right, there was a serious risk of injury and/or loss of life and it would stop us doing similar beneficial work in the future.

Our H&S team never stopped us doing anything. They suggested how we could look at problems and minimize the risk. Once we showed that the risks were acceptable against the outcome and that control measures were in place, without making the job impossible, we were good to go.

I don't get upset about legitimate H&S issues but I do object to the publication of bad practice and poor uninformed advice. Fortunately, we don't get too much of that in the MEW magazine but when it is perceived that there is an issue, there is often a massive over-reaction as in this case.

Regards

John

Russell Eberhardt05/11/2016 11:24:12
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2726 forum posts
86 photos

Hmm. . . .

Not seen the letter yet as that issue hasn't yet arrived here but this thread reminds me of the old adage:

"Those who can do

Those who can't teach

Those who can't teach consult"

Russell.

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